1. Gradebook

ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of April 29, 2018

A collection of news and views from across the state.

Midway through the year, one of Ridgewood High School’s science teachers took a different job and left. The principal couldn’t find a qualified local replacement. (There’s a teacher shortage, and that’s a high-need subject area.) What did he do next? He hired a distance learning firm that provided a classroom instructor — in Virginia.  • Don’t miss our weekly highlights of the news, views, reports and more. You can keep up daily with our conversation on Facebook, hear our podcast, and follow our blog to get all the latest Florida education news. All tips, comments and ideas welcome. Know anyone else who’d like to get this weekly roundup or other email updates? Have them send a note to

Top of the Times

Florida school districts and counties work to make campus security a reality, Emily Mahoney
“In the aftermath of the Parkland shooting and the state’s new law that requires armed security on every campus, some superintendents worry districts will now be competing for the same personnel.”
RELATED: State law enforcement officer tapped to direct new Office of Safe SchoolsCost plays a role as Pasco votes to put armed security guards in elementary schoolsHernando school officials consider raising taxes to make schools safer

State Supreme Court accepts 2009 school funding case, Jeffrey S. Solochek
“Nearly a decade after some Florida parents first argued the state Legislature does not adequately fund public education as the constitution requires, the Florida Supreme Court has agreed to take up the question.”

In Hillsborough, a new way of tracking bad substitute teachers leaves public in the dark, Marlene Sokol
“The Hillsborough County School District has made it even harder for the public to see what sometimes goes wrong when substitute teachers take charge of a classroom.”

With fewer teachers around, some schools find backups from far away, Jeffrey S. Solochek
“Substitute teacher Michael Grabau handed out headsets as the students from Ridgewood High prepared for their next biology lesson. ‘All I do is walk around, get them off their phones. The internet is full of distractions. And if they have biology questions, I answer them,’ said Grabau, who has a biology degree but does not have the qualifications to teach the class. That duty would fall to Stacy Brown, whose face popped up in the right corner panel of the students’ screens as they logged in. A countdown clock appeared below Brown’s visage, letting students know how much time they had until she would begin talking about species classification from her Virginia classroom.”

Visit for more education news from the Times staff.

Around the State

Stoneman Douglas tragedy didn’t turn student teachers away from profession, Sun-Sentinel, Scott Travis
“Two student teachers heard rapid gunfire, helicopters and countless sirens. They saw screaming high school students run for their lives and SWAT teams storm into classrooms. And they became more convinced than ever they had chosen the right profession.”

FHSAA mandates heatstroke training for high school coaches, athletes; ice tub vote tabled, Fort Myers News-Press, Seth Soffian
“Florida, which sees heat stroke kill more high school athletes than any other state, soon will have stronger heat safety education requirements for coaches and students.”

Dean Paterakis ejected from School Board candidate forum, Florida Today, Eric Rogers and Caroline Glenn
“School Board candidate Dean Paterakis, who two years ago was carried out of a board meeting and arrested for disrupting a school function, was ejected from a candidate forum Tuesday night.”

Umatilla teacher says he was booted for political reasons,, Daily Commercial, Tom McNiff
“While Barnhart is not the only Umatilla teacher whose contract wasn’t renewed — he says a half dozen others were not renewed, a figure school officials would not confirm Tuesday — he believes he was targeted because he decided to run for the School Board several months ago.”

Sarasota schools meet on race after racist prom proposal, Herald-Tribune, Elizabeth Djinis
“The Sarasota County School District hosted a closed meeting on race with community leaders and Riverview High School students Monday following a racially charged prom proposal by a Riverview senior that went viral last week.”

Bob Graham believes in civics education, but he’ll vote against it in November, Herald-Tribune, Zac Anderson
“The former Democratic governor and U.S. senator from Florida wrote a book about civic engagement and founded the Bob Graham Center for Public Service at the University of Florida, which is devoted to ‘revitalizing the civic culture of Florida and the nation.’ Yet come November, Graham said he plans to vote against a constitutional amendment that promotes civics education in Florida. That’s because Graham doesn’t like that civics education was paired with a proposal that would allow the state to certify charter schools, bypassing local school boards.”

Other Views

School boards, sheriffs are doing a disservice to local taxpayers, Longboat Key Observer editorial
“This is classic Tallahassee.  Every school district in the state is scrambling to figure out how to pay for and manage all of the mandates in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act. In typical fashion, lawmakers responded to the massacre in Parkland with a rush of legislation intended never to let such an incident occur again. This is what lawmakers do: They ‘do something.’ And in the process, while attempting to fix one problem, they create more problems.”

Teacher screening and conduct are problems in public schools, too, Orlando Sentinel guest column, Ron Matus of Step Up for Students
“Bad apples happen in all kinds of schools, regardless of how good the regulations and oversight. The truth is, school districts are full of talented, caring people doing their best to help all children. They work hard every day to make their space even better. That’s true, too, of private schools participating in Florida’s school-choice programs. But you’d never know it from the Orlando Sentinel’s hyperbolic reaction to its discovery of three private school employees who may have been hired in violation of state law.”

The Push for Better Schools Is Paying Off in Florida, Education Post columnist Lane Wright
“Since Jeb Bush became Florida’s governor in 1999 and started reforming our education system, student performance—across the board—has been climbing. The data from the Nation’s Report Card can’t tell us the exact cause for success, but there’s a strong correlation between student achievement and the work our state’s been doing over the last two decades to make it happen.”

The unintended costs of school safety, Herald-Tribune columnist Carrie Seidman
“Certainly, it can’t be argued that security isn’t essential. But if we make proactive protection priority number one, what are the unintended consequences? Are we at the same time shutting down possibilities for the next aspiring Madame Curie, Shirley Ann Jackson or Sally Ride? What else might we be inadvertently sacrificing with a budget is skewed toward deterring the aberrant mind rather than inspiring the motivated one?”

Reports of Note

Rethinking Dual Enrollment to Reach More Students, Education Commission of the States
“A substantial and growing body of research indicates that, all other factors being equal, students who dually enroll are more likely than their non-dually enrolling peers to finish high school, matriculate in a postsecondary institution and experience greater postsecondary success. Spurred by this, states are increasingly viewing dual enrollment as a strategy to promote postsecondary attainment and workforce readiness, and taking steps to broaden student access to dual enrollment coursework. Yet, by and large, state-set eligibility requirements limit dual enrollment access to only the most academically advanced students, who are likely to pursue college after high school regardless.”

Full-Time Virtual and Blended Schools: Enrollment, Student Characteristics, and Performance, NEPC
“To help ensure that funding for virtual schools appropriately reflects services provided to students, it is recommended that policymakers do the following. • Reduce per-pupil funding for students in virtual schools and virtual programs, modifying funding formulas to more closely reflect actual costs. • Study and adapt Florida’s resource allocation system for virtual schools, which provides funding only for students who were enrolled throughout the school year and who passed state assessments.”

Adding It Up: How the Florida College and Career Readiness Initiative Impacted Developmental Education, Florida State University
“Our findings suggest that initiatives like the FCCRI may not improve high school graduation rates or college enrollment. The FCCRI had no effect on these outcomes at any level of performance on the FCAT or PERT, rejecting our hypothesis that the FCCRI might encourage students to complete high school and continue to postsecondary education by showing them that they can obtain the skills needed for college.”

Coming Up

May 8: Florida Board of Governors conference call

May 15: Education Practices Commission, phone hearing

May 16: Florida Board of Education, Pinellas County School Board offices, Largo

Week of June 18: Candidate qualifying for state legislative and local school board seats

Gradebook: The Podcast

We’re podcasting, with newsmaker interviews and chats about the latest issues to crop up. Please take a listen, and send any thoughts, tips and ideas to

The latest: Wear red for ed? A conversation with Miami Beach teacher activist Nadia Zananiri

Subscribe to the podcast and review it on iTunes. You also can find our past episodes on SoundCloud.